Do cats have wet noses?

Hey! The soup is as cold as the cat’s wet nose…That was a cold kiss, as cold as the cat’s wet nose! Do cats really have wet noses? In dogs a wet nose is often believed as a sign of good health. Does it hold true with cats as well? Most cats have wet noses but it is not an indication that all is well with the cat’s health. Cats with dry noses are perfectly healthy too.

The nose is a vital organ for a cat. The nose plays a very important role for the cat’s survival especially before domestication when these animals would need to hunt and to fend off the attacks of predators in order to survive in the wild. It is therefore but proper for these animals to have ultrasensitive scenting abilities. Did you know that your kitty’s scenting ability is more than fourteen times stronger than yours? This is because a cat’s nose has 200 million scent receptors while humans only have 5 million. Additionally, the size of cat’s olfactory epithelium is way much larger than what humans have. The sense of smell is already well developed at birth. Kittens are born blind and the nose guides these new-borns to the nipple of the queen. Kittens can wander from the nest…again the nose will guide the kittens back to where the mother cat is. The nose is as well used by the cat to find territories it has previously marked, to identify friends and predators and of course to sniff the location of food. The sense of smell is vital to the cat’s eating pattern. A cat would not eat what it cannot smell. This is why cats with upper respiratory tract infection or those with cold that causes nasal congestion will be off food. To entice the pet to eat cat owners would normally offer heated foods. The aroma wafting from the food entices the cat to eat.

A cat’s nose’s external bridge is called nasal planum. The nasal septum, a bone and cartilage structure separates the two nasal cavities that open out to the throat. These nasal cavities are lined with nerves and blood vessel-rich mucus membrane that serves as the cat’s first defence against foreign bodies, bacteria and contaminants that can endanger the cat’s health. The nose is lined with 20 cm² olfactory epithelium that contains 200 million scent receptors. Depending on the cat’s natural coloring, the nose leather can either be black or pink. Cats are very curious animals that have the propensity to stick and to rub the nose in unlikely spots and objects. It is quite fortunate that the nose leather is rather tough.

As mentioned, cats can have wet or dry noses. Given the cat’s inclination to groom for hours, it would not be unusual for these animals to have wet noses. When the cat grooms, the nose will rub against the wet fur. The temperature and the overall appearance of the nose would depend on the activity of the sweat glands. An active sweat gland would naturally result to a moist and cold nose. However, this is not to say that a cat with dry nose has an underlying medical condition. Just as with wet noses, it is perfectly normal for cat to have dry noses too. A wet nose could be an indication of illness if the pet is not acting as it normally should. A wet nose with a heavy nasal discharge can point to a respiratory it infection. On the other hand, a dry nose can also indicate a health concern. Both conditions must not be ignored especially if the pet is showing other symptoms like inappetance, weight loss, decreased activity level, noisy breathing and an unpleasant smell emanating from the cat’s nose and mouth. A vet’s attention is imperative.

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